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Open letter from Jose Aviles from the Ecuador Amazon Indigenous Nationalities Confederation to Joan Kuyek of MiningWatch Canada.

Dear Ms. Kuyek,

As President of CONFENIAE, representing over 200,000 indigenous peoples of the Amazonian Region of Ecuador, I am deeply offended, appalled and outraged that your organization raises funds in Canada to support violence, illegal activities and the continuation of poverty for indigenous people in Ecuador. On your website, I read many references about the evils of mining in Ecuador and its impacts [on] our communities, but your website fails to mention that these Canadian companies build schools, repair churches, build community halls, houses, improve our roads, support cultural/language programs, provide health care to our families and provide educational scholarships to our children. You also fail to mention that mining jobs pay very well (4 to 5 times the national minimum wage) and this industry is the single largest employer of indigenous (Shuar) people in the Zamora Chinchipe Province.

As leader of CONFENIAE, I stand by our leaders (like Mr. Ruben Nachap, President of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe) who want and pursue the means of creating a better quality of life for their people. This means that our organization is in full support of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe in their work and progress towards resolving the issues of generational poverty through partnerships with responsible Canadian mining companies like EcuaCorriente, whom plan to invest in excess of $340 million ... and create over 1,000 construction jobs and 4,00 direct/indirect employment opportunities for the Shuar and Colono peoples of  Zamora Chinchipe.

At this time, I invite you to an open forum with our leaders to discuss the rationale of MiningWtach Canada as to why your organization supports the continuation of poverty of indigenous peoples in Ecuador. During this forum we would like to know about your organization's economic alternatives to mining and to have your organization match or exceed the $340 million ... worth of investment that EcuaCorriente Resources plans to invest in the Zamora Chinchipe Province. We would also like a written and public promise from you that your organization will create 1,000 construction jobs (for a period of two years) [and] 4,000 additional jobs paying a minimum of $15.00 per day to the Shuar and Colono residents of Zamora Chinchipe Province 9for the next 20 years). I am also quite sure that our national, regional and local governments will also want guarantees from your organization that you will pay the tens of millions of dollars of lost tax revenues from [the] EcuaCorriente project.

In closing, I hope that you are able to meet with our leaders in Ecuador so you can see first hand the devastating impacts that poverty is having [on] our children, families, culture and our environment to ensure that in the future your organization does not support the cultural, economic and social genocide of indigenous peoples in Ecuador. Our organization is also very interested in hearing about and having your organization guarantee the replacement of billions of dollars worth of investment that the Canadian mining industry plans to invest in territories ...throughout Ecuador.

Your time and attention is appreciated and I look forward to the opportunity of meeting with you in the future.

Respectfully,
Jose Aviles,
President of CONFENIAE

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The leadership of CONFENIAE is in dispute between two factions, including one led by Mr. Aviles. This column is based on an open letter sent to Joan Kuyek, national Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, on June 27, 2007 and shared with the government of Canada, Canadian members of Parliament and the Canadian Senate as well as various NGOs, media and other foreign governments. Edited by Latin Business Chronicle for style and grammar.
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